A new round of high-intensity, persistent rocket attacks in Israel have put cities, settlements, and the civilians inhabiting them under a red alert as barrages of Hamas RAM (rocket, artillery, and mortar) rounds are seeking to overwhelm Israeli defenses. The frequency of strikes and the massive number of salvos carried out from the Gaza Strip into both nearby and distant areas present the most comprehensive air-defense challenge to Israel, both in terms of depth and scope of the strikes. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have been targets of the attacks as well, and these strikes are coupled with political unrest and violence on the streets. Over 1,050 rockets and mortar shells have been fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel since the outbreak of fighting on Monday evening.
Israel has responded to the rocket attacks with airstrikes, attempting to achieve a “left-of-launch” denial effect to thwart on-going and future rocket attacks. The ease with which Hamas can hide, move, and launch rockets, is making it impossible to utilize left-of-launch offensive assets on the abundance of targets, in a manner that would be required to adequately suppress the threat. On Monday evening alone, Hamas shot over 250 rockets. The intentionally-close proximity of the launch sites to civilian Palestinian population centers and infrastructure, also poses a serious operational dilemma to the Israeli forces attempting to target and strike legitimate targets in heavily-populated areas. As such, the Israeli procurement, deployment, and operational utilization of proven rocket- and missile-defense systems is absolutely key to survival. It is all about the young Israeli Lieutenants operating the ‘Iron Dome’ batteries, making critical decisions whether to engage or not, in a short launch window of 30 to 60 seconds.
Iron Dome, the low-tier, ground-based missile-defense system co-developed with the United States -with coordination between Israel’s Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency-, is designed, developed, and deployed to defeat RAM strikes. It is a $4.5 billion investment which just achieved 10 years operational service, and it is combat-proven and being put to test in an even more demanding combat environment. This capability has shown exceptional intercept rates with superb discrimination of rockets, to determine if they are on target to strike population centers or not. It is a testament to the absolute requirement for a layered missile-defense architecture to protect and defend the populations of our allied homelands. The system has shown an 85% to 90% success rate in defending against these threats since 2011. Iron Dome batteries are currently deployed in Israel, especially in the south, near cities like Sderot, Ashkelon, and Eilat.
Missile defense matters, missile defense works, and missile defense is ground truth. Missile defense is not the luxury of a few high-tech militaries in the world anymore, it is a basic warfighting requirement that many more countries are looking to have as an option to succeed in tough situations within this volatile, proliferation-rich security landscape. Reliance on left-of-launch capabilities is not a guaranteed approach, and it needs to be combined with effective capabilities deployed right-of-launch to defend populations.
The events unfolding in the Middle East may foreshadow greater conflagration of non-state actors using RAM launches to terrorize free people. It is strategically naive to discount the possibility that these non-state actors may be supported by Russia and Iran. Israel’s successful use of the “Iron Dome” proves the essential case for acquiring strategic capabilities for operational empowerment on the continuity of “Deterrence through Defense.” Like Israel and the United States, our Allies and Partners must possess Missile Defense systems that serve to bolster our collective Deterrence and Defense.
Please join us for our Virtual Roundtable Discussion today at 3:00 pm EDT on “Live and Under Fire: An MDAA Virtual Discussion with a World Missile Expert on the Ground in Tel Aviv, Israel and Former U.S. Army Commander of the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command.”